Business

Who Owns TikTok? Users Or Someone Mightier Than Them

TikTok has become more than an app in the modern age and time and it can be said without any iota of doubt that it has turned itself very swiftly into a popular phenomenon with its edited video-making features especially among the youth around the world. 

TikTok has revolutionized the way our societies are consuming their entertainment content today as now it’s no longer about what is your height and what is your eye color or even you are fat or thin but the whole ballgame now revolves around you being capable of using TikTok and make good videos from it.

Previously, it was only the big stars of tinsel town who had easy access to great quality video making and the rest of the populace were just the spectators of their art but now the trend has changed as a commoner can now make his/her own movie type thing by just compiling two or three of their best TikTok compilations.

TikTok has turned the old perception of reality upside down too with its novel advancements in the field of showbiz as now you don’t have to approach some renowned movie director or movie maker for casting you in their next big-budget would-be blockbuster ( which has equal chances of turning into either a flop show or a disaster too depending on the kind of content, script and acting it entails).

Now you are a star in your own right as you have a nice toolkit of editing special effects at your disposal when you open the TikTok app on your cell phone and without even queuing up in front of the grand entrance of some movie studio you now make a video in your home and in your room which can get you more views on the internet than even a movie these days.

Chances are you will become more of a viral sensation as compared to the movie you couldn’t be cast in and you may get more mass following and likes, comments, and DMs and shares on your account than the entire star cast of some big-budget movie.

These days everyone is following Tik Tokers from politicians to bureaucrats to sportsmen and actors themselves so stay sure of the fact that you are in the better and bright hands of TikTok but now the main question that arises here is that what exactly is TikTok and if it is a popular video making app catapulting one to stardom overnight then what is the real force behind it? Who runs it? Who owns TikTok?

Who created Tiktok?

What is Tiktok?

TikTok is a mobile video sharing and social networking app launched in September 2016. It is developed by the Chinese company ByteDance for the non-Chinese market. Its counterpart for the Chinese market is called Douyin ( literally means “short vibrato video” in Chinese language). Its logo evokes a musical note.

Who owns Tiktok?

ByteDance, a digital technology company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming and based in Beijing, launched in September 2016 Douyin, a mobile application for sharing short videos for the Chinese market.

In 2017, ByteDance launched TikTok, Douyin’s version for markets outside China. Both applications are very similar but operate on different servers and have different contents, in order to meet the requirements of Internet censorship in the People’s Republic of China and the Grand Firewall. Thus, TikTok is not accessible in China, while Douyin is present only on Chinese application stores.

Fastest growing application

The app allows users to create short videos with music, from 3 to 180 seconds. TikTok becomes the main service of its kind in Asia, and the application is considered the fastest growing in all countries. It is the music video sharing app that brings together the largest community. In June 2018, TikTok reached 150 million daily active users (for five hundred million monthly active users). In the first quarter of 2018, it was the leading mobile app in terms of downloads (an estimated 45.8 million).

Acquisition of Musical.ly

On November 9, 2017, ByteDance acquired the competing Chinese video platform Musical.ly, for nearly one billion US dollars. On August 2, 2018, the company merged the two applications, while retaining the TikTok name. This merger, including the TikTok name and YouTube and Snapchat advertising campaigns, has been criticized by French-speaking users. However, the former francophone community of Musical.ly quickly adopted the new platform.

Fined by the FTC

In February 2019, TikTok was fined a record $5.7 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States. The platform is found guilty of illegally collecting and leaving public data on children under 13. This sanction prompted the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) of the United Kingdom to open an investigation into the protection of children on the platform.

Change in Chinese lobbying strategy

In 2019, as a result of regulatory concerns and controversies over its ties to the Chinese state, TikTok hired staff to lobby in the United States,and in Europe, where the action is seen as proactive, the company did not have significant problems. ByteDance is one of the few Chinese internet companies to lobby on the continent. For an expert in lobbying the European Union, this also represents a change in China’s lobbying strategy, through both private companies and the government, and an increased use of Western methods.

Active users of the app and the lockdown

At the end of 2019, the app has more than a billion users—the third most downloaded app in the world on smartphones—especially teenagers, and is the only social network as popular in the East as in the West. In January 2020, the application reached 800 million active users per month, a figure approaching one billion at the end of April 2020.

The lockdown periods observed during the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 in almost every country in the world are seen as favouring this bond. TikTok would thus equal Instagram, which had reached one billion active users per month according to its latest figures of June 2018.

American CEO of Tiktok

In May 2020, TikTok, who was looking for an American CEO, appointed Kevin Mayer, then Director of Video-on-Demand at Disney. Mayer also assumed the position of Chief Operating Officer of ByteDance. This recruitment is described as strategic, aimed at gaining the confidence of the United States in a context where the application is criticized by authorities who suspect it is a threat to national security.

Banned in India

In June 2020, the app was inscribed on a list of 59 banned Chinese apps in India, its first market with 158 million users, shortly after a deadly clash between the two countries’ armies on their border. The decision is made to ensure “the security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”, with the application being accused of “stealing and transmitting data from Indian Internet users on servers located outside the territory”.

Head office outside China in the aftermath of Indian and American bans

Following the ban on application in India and the possibility of a ban in the United States, the management of TikTok and its parent company ByteDance are considering the creation of a head office outside China for the company, and a dedicated board of directors that allows it more independence from ByteDance.

Hong Kong and TikTok

After the introduction of a national security law in Hong Kong, ByteDance withdrew access to TikTok for the territory, citing “recent events”, while leaving the Chinese version of the Douyin application accessible.

Global offices

The app has offices around the world, including Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul and Tokyo.To consolidate its growth, it would use “aggressive” methods to attract staff from major Internet firms such as Google and Facebook, including many high-ranking individuals, and would offer large-scale sales.

In July 2020, its parent company ByteDance employed 60,000 people, and in March 2020 stated that it wanted to reach 100,000 employees by the end of the year. At the same time, the number of TikTok employees visible on the LinkedIn professional social network was more than 4,600.

European data center and an American blow to the app

On 6 August 2020, TikTok announced the opening of its first European data center in Ireland, at a total cost of 420 million euros.

On August 27, US Kevin Mayer, who took office as General Manager of TikTok and Chief Operating Officer of ByteDance in May 2020, announced his resignation, citing a change in the political context. This decision is described as a blow to TikTok.

Microsoft and TikTok

Following the US government’s decision to ban the application in the US if it has not found a US buyer by September 15, Microsoft is entering into discussions with ByteDance to take over the US markets, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian platform.

In September 2020, Microsoft’s offer was rejected by ByteDance, in favour of Oracle’s bid which was selected, the company taking an interest in TikTok’s US operations and serving as a technical intermediary and trusted user data management.

This agreement was rejected on September 18 by the US government, which banned the download of the application in the United States.

Most downloaded app, Facebook and ban in USA

At the same time, the government blocked the WeChat application and announced the blocking of TikTok on US territory by 12 November 2020. On September 20, the US government announced its approval of the agreement with Oracle as well as with Walmart and the postponement of the TikTok download ban to September 27, 2020.

On 30 April 2021, the parent company ByteDance announced a change of management within Tiktok by appointing Shou Zi Chew, already ByteDance’s Chief Financial Officer, as Chief Executive Officer of TikTok.

In 2020, TikTok will become the most downloaded application in the world in front of Facebook.

Function of the app

TikTok allows users to view music videos, but also to film, edit and share their own clips. The user selects a song, then films over it for 60 seconds. The app features numerous titles as well as many musical genres, including hip-hop and electronic music.

Viral tendencies

As a result of its influence, the app has seen the rise of several viral tendencies, popularized several songs, propelled users to the rank of personalities on Web, and is also known to be popular with celebrities.

Competitors and TikTok

The success of the app is worth some of its features to be taken over by its competitors, including Instagram which announced a feature called Reels, and a new similar American platform named Thriller. In 2018, Facebook launched Lasso, a similar and competing application, which it abandoned in 2020.

Users

Prior to the ban of the platform in India, a significant proportion of users were from that country, 43% according to a March 2019 study. TikTok is particularly appreciated by teens in Generation Z. A September 2019 YouGov survey indicates that 40% of Americans aged 13 to 16 use TikTok, equal to Facebook and Twitter, but less than Snapchat (68%), Instagram (79%), and YouTube (used by almost all).

Business Insider 2019 survey

However, a January 2019 survey on the Business Insider website found that 11% of US Internet users aged 13 to 21 use TikTok daily, significantly less than these other platforms. In France, the platform has 4 million active monthly users at the end of June 2020.

In China, the app will have 500 million users in September 2021.

Emergence of Tiktok celebrities

The platform propels teenagers and young adults to the status of full-fledged celebrities, many of whom then sign contracts with sponsors and art agencies and whose fame may extend beyond TikTok’s scope. It makes famous the American teenager Charli D’Amelio, who downloads TikTok during the summer of 2019 and becomes known for her dance videos, before being joined by her sister Dixie D’Amelio, whose account also becomes extremely popular.

Queen of TikTok and other stars

In November 2019, the two sisters joined the TikTok Hype House collective of content creators, which includes 19 influencers/tiktokers including Addison Rae and Chase Hudson. In January 2020, Charli D’Amelio signed with the talent agency UTA and the New York Times called her “Queen of TikTok”.

In 10 months, his account became the most followed on the platform, surpassing that of Loren Gray on March 25, 2020. It subsequently reached more than 100 million subscribers, as well as 35.859 million on Instagram, 861 million on YouTube and more than 2.2 million on Twitter.

Victim of harassment and mockery on his body, Charli D’Amelio and her sister Dixie join forces with UNICEF to denounce online bullying and the dangers of celebrity on the platform.

Media on Tiktok

With the success of the application among the youngest, various Western media joined the platform, publishing videos adopting its codes, to take advantage of the site’s large audience to try to rejuvenate their audience by reaching a generation whose media consumption is different from previous generations.

Washington Post on TikTok

The head of video creation at the Washington Post explains that TikTok is very useful, making a parallel with its crossword section. For a long time, it was denigrated by readers before it became very well known and represented real money inflows and a source of new subscriptions.

Le Monde on TikTok

The newspaper Le Monde joined the platform in June 2020, after the lockdown in France which encouraged its growth in the country.

Media concern on TikTok’s concern towards Uighurs

The head of its Snapchat/TikTok department says that success on the social and current issues platform such as the #BlackLivesMatter movement is a testament to a generation of users who can take an interest in complex topics, and often asks to address “difficult” issues, such as the situation of Uighurs, which is also known to cause controversies related to censorship on the platform.

Tiktok: an app belonging to China as an important tool of influence

Since 1980, China has experienced considerable economic development, to the point of surpassing the United States in several areas: economic, technological and scientific. The rivalry exacerbates diplomatic relations, as the Huawei case is one significant example. A start to the Cold War seems to be taking place between the two powers, even if the United States retains an advantage which is shrinking faster than expected (Woodward,

2017; Fontanel, 2020b).

Power of China

China has developed powerful industries in the nuclear, mobile telephony, rail, space and intelligence in the digital economy, sectors that are likely to be masters of the power of the future. The dictatorship of the party is opposed to democracy, which vacillates in the United States under the political power of the billionaires who seem to impose a plutocracy. China is conquering, it is one of the forces of government and the Chinese Communist Party, it’s probably even the national unity cement (Gravereau, 2017; Frankopan, 2019).

2049 Chinese vision and much more

For 2049, Xi Jinping’s China wants to become the economic power global dominant (Donnet, 2020; La Maisonneuve, 2019). It because of a support from the Chinese youth, overwhelmed by a competition geopolitics that can only be won by being good citizens obedient to the orders of the Party On June 20, 2020, Donald Trump probably did not know TikTok, until, as part of its electoral campaign, the Tulsa’s recovery did not turn into a failure, a disaster. In overwhelming the online reservation center, democratic opponents may have found the parade at what was an electoral steamroller in 2016.

Donald Trump, US politics and Tiktokers

Many teenagers, tiktokers (TikTok subscribers), had reserved seats with the instruction to leave the bleachers This presentation was challenged by Donald Trump, claiming his teams were checking the numbers of and assigned entries in order of arrival.

The official cause of the failure is therefore Covid-19 and protesters who prevented families from returning. The action of Tiktokers has not been denied, and it is necessary to add that the Democrats, including Bernie Sanders, had already participated in a number of collective actions undertaken as part of an application very looked at and supported by young people from all over the world.

TikTok and US institutions

However, the lesson was not forgotten, especially when the one who has it is a political action intended to harm it and therefore to attack American democracy. In this context, targeting the President of the United States constitutes violence against all the American nation, especially when behind the application of adolescents hides a Chinese owner. In this context, it is the national security of the United States which is directly concerned. It is then appropriate to prevent it from harming American institutions.

What are the criticisms made against Chinese app TikTok?

First, TikTok was investigated by the CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the USA), the agency to ensure that foreign investment does not pose no particular risk to national security.

The suspected the parent company of acting under the control of the political authorities of Beijing, which censor content that is not in line with its Conservative American politicians have also expressed their concern that the very popular video platform would be

used by Beijing to undermine the democratic values of the United States, in particular by transmitting and storing the personal data of its users for political purposes.

This is not the first time that Washington accuses China of using apps to spy and to undermine American national security. Kunlun Group, owner of Chinese meetings for LGBT, had already been led to sell its shares on the same charges.

Chinese ploy of TikTok

Washington is convinced that the Chinese Communist Party has the means to use all applications of Chinese origin and use them for purposes that compromises the national To maintain its Chinese application, more than 10,000 people who have been employed by ByteDance, recruited most often among the members of the Communist Party. They have the task of scrutinizing the messages to avoid all attacks against social and moral rules of socialism.

TikTok and Chinese laws

The Chinese cybersecurity law requires that all citizens cooperate with national intelligence under penalty of criminal prosecution. In this context, ByteDance and its founder are obviously concerned. Tiktok tries to be free from the demands of Beijing, by accepting in particular in its foreign versions the dissemination of positions of individuals in favour of the Uighur minority.

Its owner, accused of seeking to sell its application in the United States, is sometimes presented in China as a traitor to the homeland. security of the United States.Founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming, still based in Beijing, ByteDance, owner of TikTok, is today the third Chinese Internet company after Alibaba and Tencent.

Beijing censorship and success of TikTok

The success of TikTok came with the acquisition of Musical.ly in 2017 for a billion dollars. This is the second busiest application in the world after WhatsApp. The company has a similar application in China, under another name (Douyin or Doyin). Since its creation its creator has offered an international version different from the Chinese version.Both applications are presented as being hermetically separated, especially as Douyin is firmly controlled by Beijing censorship, just like Google, WhatsApp or Facebook.

She has often had to defend herself from her ties to the Chinese government and denied sharing data with Chinese authorities. To the contrary, its relations with the Communist Party are often stormy, the contents of messages that do not meet the defined criteria by Beijing.

Center for Strategic and International Studies, Disney and geopolitics of TikTok

ByteDance has committed both not to have the intention to accept  Beijing requests that would affect the confidentiality of data and messages and to present a high level of transparency up to control of its algorithms, to reassure users and regulators. James Lewis, Chief of Technology Policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, considers that the United States incurs using TikTok is almost zero.

It is true that TikTok teams in the United States are managed by employees. Director Kenin Mayer is the former Chairman of Disney. ByteDance planned to hire 10,000 people for all of its activities and new employees in the year 2020. Today, the Chinese startup most successful overseas finds itself between the hammer American and the Chinese anvil in geopolitical and geoeconomic relationships between the two world powers.

Conclusion

No matter who remains the real owner of TikTok, whether it is the Chinese government or some random Chinese business magnate running several businesses while being constantly monitored by the radar of the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China, what is important is the impact of this app.

TikTok today has become a force to be reckoned with and it can be said that it is now more powerful than even the law enforcement agencies of many countries.

TikTok has gone crazy for many like some wildfire unabated with many dangerous implications too on the society and the existing generational gap as chances are with kids practicing a weird form of entertainment every day on the app due to one trend or the other, there will come a day they will completely stop listening to their parents and elders and would only sing to the tune of what’s new at TikTok.

The world of TikTok looks glittery and glamorous but has its dark side too as seen in how it maltreats and ultimately discards people who become irrelevant and unpopular overnight to the stature of the app due to them being in hot waters over a certain opinion they expressed at a press talk or due to some leaked video leading to a disastrous scandal for their career.